Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I lied.. Oh no! ...Deeply privileged

"I have authority to go deep into the well of love at the centre of the universe... and bring that love to bear in a sad situation."
I lied...
In my Monday post I told you that I had a normal week ahead.  I am sorry I lied. I was looking forward to a normal week but it has not turned out to be so. This year has been "busy". Here's a list of some of the things...

  • Son's wedding in January and brief trip with other son.
  • Holiday time doing some renovation work around home.
  • Mid-February visit Christchurch after the birth of my grandson.
  • Visit by Australian friends.
  • All this while wearing a catheter "plumbing arrangement".
  • Mid-March an unsuccessful Trans Urethral Resection (rebore) and recovery.
  • Easter time visit by my son, daughter in law and grand daughter - baby sitting duties.
  • A car accident with the car eventually written off by the insurance company.
  • My last Annual General Meeting of the Church and the reports to prepare.
  • Two separate days in hospital to try to get things right... and a new "plumbing system" to get used to.
  • In the last five weeks I have conducted three funerals - A man who was hit by a car - My childhood minister's funeral - and a funeral for a twenty one year old.
All this stuff has happened along with the normal ministry, chaplaincy and Night Shelter Trust challenges. On Monday night I felt like I needed a "normal" week... but it is not going to happen.
Last week on the night after last week's funeral I received a call from a St John Ambulance officer in another centre. A friend of his in Christchurch, a St John officer was dying of cancer. I had conducted the wedding for this man a number of years ago when the couple lived in Dunedin. Now he had asked his friend to ask me if I could conduct his funeral when the end came. The funeral is to be in Gore, 161 Kilometres away from here.  I agreed to do it, I am a St John Chaplain after all. 
Oh no!  ... Last night I received the call from his widow. He has died and the funeral is to be on Friday at 11 a.m.  My heart sank. I have all sorts of Night Shelter and other things to complete before the weekend. How will I cope with another funeral amidst all this? But in the couple of minutes that I was talking to her, I knew that I had to do it and that somehow deep resources would enable me to cope. 
Privileged to be there...
When I received the call I was on line reading commentaries and thoughts on this coming Sunday's Gospel reading. It is the story of Jesus healing the centurion's son. One commentator told a story of receiving an early morning call to go to the hospital to be with the family of a baby who had died. She served as a hospital chaplain.  She told of the fear of going. The nervousness and yet the desire to be there. She told of that sense of privilege that she felt as she brought help into this dark situation. That rang bells with me. It will be a stressful few days. I meet with the widow tomorrow. I will have to squeeze preparation in somehow. But I sense three things...

  • Somehow I am not alone in this ministry. A recent creed I quote says, "God is love. That cosmic creativity present everywhere and in everything, gently urging all toward the good." I cannot explain it, but when I reach out in love, especially when I need extra strength, I sense a partnership with this mysterious reality. "He" will provide insight, discernment and strength to allow me to do what I have to. "He" will also be in this guy's mates as I share with them and they too will be with me, in support.
  • I have a calling to do this... When I was a teenage plumbing apprentice I was quite strong. Often heavy ducts had to be held in place while sheet metal workers attached bolts, brackets and rivets. The plumbing foreman would call for me. "Where's our human crane? Come on Dave, get under here!"  I would climb under the duct, balance it on my back and heave it into place while others guided it home. It had become my "special job" - I had the strength and had developed the right technique.  It is like this with these funerals. I am the best one with the connections, the relationships and the skills to do it. This is a couple I married. I also supported them through some ups and downs.  I have a continuing task now in this sad part of their life to gather with their friends, many of whom I know, and guide them through the final "Good byes" - It is like the sacred "foreman" saying, "Come on Dave, get over here - you have a job to do - a task to complete! You fit here."
  • The privileges of bringing the deep resources of love... As I read this chaplain's comments, a picture gelled in my mind. I have the authority to go deep into the well of love at the centre of the universe and the community (that cosmic creativity) and bring that love to bear on this sad life situation. I have the authority to carry, represent and express the love at the heart of life. Wow! What a responsibility, but also what a privilege? In some ways what more could I ask of life? "What did you do at work today?" "Oh nothing...I just was a pipeline for the loving cosmic creativity to soak into the lives of a family in need of a lot of love at this time."   Like WOW!

I don't have a normal week this week - I was wrong. I have another stressful and packed few days ahead, but deep down I know I can do it and do something special and awesome. 

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